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Title: Continuity and change in English radical writing, 1659-1675
Author: Charlton, T. H.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis builds upon recent work by historians such as Richard Greaves and Jonathan Scott which has revealed both a vibrant radical underground in Restoration England and the significant role that illicit, ‘seditious’ printing played in maintaining the circulation of radical discourse. These accounts focus principally upon the practice of censorship in the Restoration, and its infringement.  I contend, however, that the supporters of the Restoration also sought to control polemically the reception of texts whose oppositional rhetoric vindicated ideologies which challenged the authority of the Restoration. The thesis contends that a study of polemical matrices provides important new tools for understanding the continuities and changes in how the early modern public sphere operated. Whilst noting that the ‘Habermasian moment’ in early modern studies appears to be passing, the thesis offers in its place a model termed ‘the polemical matrix’. This seeks to account for the sheer responsiveness of much of the literature in this period, and focuses attention towards analysing how the acceptance or rejection of a text’s hermeneutical premises posits interpretation as a site for ideological contention. My research uncovers contemporary responses in correspondence, diaries, and manuscript marginalia, but concentrates on polemical exchanges within the literature. The thesis places these texts at the intersection of interpretation and rhetoric, highlighting how responses to previous arguments are pitched to persuade readers of the analytical validity of their readings. These are analysed in relation to three crises of authority: the ‘anarchy’ of 1659; the early years of the Restoration; and the debates over toleration in the late 1660s and early 1670s.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available